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CityLAB program celebrates five years as Hamilton’s hub for innovation and experiential learning

HAMILTON, ON - CityLAB Hamilton is now a permanent hub for innovation, collaboration and learning in the city after five successful years allowing students, faculty, City staff and community stakeholders to co-create solutions to support Hamilton’s strategic priorities and foster community.

The CityLAB Hamilton program launched in 2017 as a three-year pilot, later extended to May 2022, as a collaborative model developed jointly by Hamilton’s post-secondary institutions - McMaster University, Mohawk College and Redeemer University - and the City of Hamilton.  

Over the last five years, CityLAB’s various projects and partnerships have worked to make Hamilton a more vibrant, healthy and sustainable city. The program benefits have proven reciprocal for all involved: student participants, academic institutions, the City of Hamilton and the broader community.

  • Students gain real-world skills, a connection to the city and additional employment opportunities after graduation;
  • Post-secondary schools can provide experiential learning opportunities for students while building networks across disciplines and institutions; and
  • City of Hamilton staff are exposed to new ideas that support the City’s strategic priorities, strengthen networks across industries, and can mentor future leaders.

The program officially transitioned from a pilot to permanent as of June 1, 2022, following the decision by program partners, as well as Hamilton City Council’s approval of the 2022 tax supported operating budget on March 30, 2022 that included permanent annual funding for CityLAB.

Quick Facts

  • Since 2017, the CityLAB program has achieved the following:  
  • More than 158 community partnerships formed through faculty, students and staff
  • 60,000 hours contributed by 2,531 students, in partnership with 88 City of Hamilton staff and 68 faculty members from McMaster, Mohawk and Redeemer
  • CityLAB projects have included creating equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) frameworks, seeking ways to bridge the digital divide through device recycling and accessibility programs, water quality monitoring, transportation audits, enhancing Hamilton Public Library programs, improving micro mobility in the city, and supporting CityHousing Hamilton through housing builds and proposed community safety models.
  • CityLAB’s Semester in Residence program provides an unparalleled immersive opportunity for a group of students each fall focused on city building, design-thinking and change making. The 15-credit program is among a handful of experiential learning programs in Canada offering such an immersive partnership between students and a municipality.
  • The CityLAB program is governed by a Steering Committee, made up of executive-level representation from each partner school as well as the City of Hamilton.


"The City of Hamilton is proud to have co-founded this innovative partnership between our community's students and staff to produce real solutions to challenges we are facing while providing students with valuable hands-on experience. It is a winning collaboration that warranted a five-year pilot program that is now becoming a permanent endeavour, and I congratulate all those involved in the program's success. I am confident that CityLAB will continue to engage our brightest students and foster continued innovation within our community for years to come.”

- Mayor Fred Eisenberger, City of Hamilton

"The CityLAB program highlights Hamilton’s innovative and partnership-centered approach to problem solving and is a testament to our success in being named a globally recognized “Intelligent Community”. Partnerships like CityLAB prove we can work together to create equity in connectivity and accessibility that help reduce the digital divide in our community.”

- Cyrus Tehrani, Chief Digital Officer & Director of Innovation, City of Hamilton

"CityLAB speaks to the spirit of collaboration in Hamilton, providing students who are eager to make a difference in their communities with the opportunity to not only contribute but also collaborate with local decision makers and municipal government. As a resource to City staff, CityLAB projects provide extra resources, fresh thinking and new tools to solve old problems, making our city one that is open to change and responsive to residents."

- Patrick Byrne, Project Manager, CityLAB Hamilton, City of Hamilton

"CityLAB is a hallmark program for Mohawk College, emphasizing institutional collaboration, community engagement and experiential learning. For the past five years, hundreds of Mohawk College students have benefitted from CityLAB experience and made a meaningful contribution to the community through their innovative projects. We are grateful that CityLAB will now have secured funding to support this important community hub, for the benefit of student education and the Hamilton community."

- Ron J. McKerlie, President & CEO, Mohawk College

“CityLAB has been an exciting and beneficial partnership for all of the collaborators, bringing us together through our shared community and our students. CityLAB students learn the complexities and nuances of interdisciplinary challenges, working with folks from across the city including community members and City staff. These students appreciate the value of the lived and learned experience of others and bring their own perspectives from their academic programs. CityLAB gives our students the opportunity to turn their learning into impact now, effecting positive change in their local communities.”

- Dr. Kimberley Dej, PhD (Acting) Vice-Provost, Faculty, McMaster University

"CityLAB continues to be an amazing opportunity for students to make a difference in the city of Hamilton in tangible and innovative ways. Redeemer University is honoured to be a part of this partnership and is excited for its future as a permanent program. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with our post secondary partners and with the City as we work to see Hamilton flourish for years to come.”

- Dr. David Zietsma, President, Redeemer University

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